I am concerned. I am deeply concerned. The very recent national tragedy of a deeply troubled, angry and violent younger black man, Mr. Steven Stephens of Cleveland, Ohio killing an elderly black man, Mr. Robert Godwin on LIVE Facebook has rocked me and tens of millions of black Americans to our core.
It is no longer okay for us as a community, or us as a nation, to ignore the mental health crisis that is clearly going on with black men in America. Is it all black men? Of course not. But it is far too many, as evidenced by the violent and hateful videos that many black men have on social media from YOUTUBE/GOOGLE (where they menace, threaten, demean, attack and harass black women) to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. These videos (among other hate or violent videos) have become so bad that major advertisers like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, GSK, to name a few have left YOUTUBE/GOOGLE in a great exodus in March 2017 and the company has lost hundreds of millions of dollars in the process. See links: You Tube Loses Major Sponsors and You Tube Loses Major Advertisers Due to Offensive Videos
I have been the unwitting victim of some of these senseless hate videos by black men I do not know. Have never bothered. Or spoken about. These clearly emotionally disturbed men are angry at the world. They hate their lives. They hate their women. They hate the white world that they believe marginalizes them. While we can all agree that black men and women earn less, are still largely invisible in corporate America, and industry. Too many of us get up everyday, go to work, run businesses, and keep keeping on despite the devastating effects of racism and sexism. We do not harass, demean, curse, threaten to murder, rape or attack our fellow neighbors or countrymen. We live our lives, we make the best of it and we keep pressing forward.
We also do not hide behind our “First Amendment” rights as a means to cover toxic masculinity and other psychological disorders that cause these men to believe that they can steal images, morph voices, attack, cyber bully, stalk, demean and go on rants about women and people they have never even met.
Thank God our ancestors did not lay down and die. Or play the blame game. Thank God they did not let the Transatlantic crossing kill our spirits as it did many of their bodies. Thank God black men banded together. Fought together. Built churches, schools, homes, hotels, libraries and communities together. They did it with black women at their side. Helping. Supporting. Working. Lifting. Feeding. Nurturing. And partnering with them. What in the hell has happened to us? What is all of this hatred? Anger? Menacing and violence all about?
It’s time we started to have black men conferences to help them heal. We women do it all the time but none of that matters if our men refuse to heal along side of us. Black male depression is real. It is happening all around us to Pastors committing suicide. Celebrities like Chris Brown being violent. Or Kanye West needing emotional rehab. This is real. I applaud some of the rappers and other young brothers who have come forward and who are trying to talk about this. But, we can no longer sit by and make excuses for what is inexcusable.
From the sister school teacher in San Bernardino California (and the innocent student 8 year old shot to death) at the hands of her black husband and Pastor (See: Husband a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing.). To the Military Vet who resorted to vigilante violence in Dallas killing police. To the kids ravaged in inner city Chicago by violence taken too soon, we owe you an apology. We have been complicit. We have covered. Ignored. And enabled this violence by making excuses. It’s time for us to stop making excuses.
I love my black brothers. I have said it many times. As the daughter of a black man. As the sister of a black man. As the girlfriend of a black man. I want to help. But what I know for sure is that only black men can fix themselves. Too many black women have tried and failed. We can encourage you. We can love you. But you can no longer beat on us, blame us or bully us because you are not happy with your life. Black women are not the enemy here. Life is no “crystal stairway” for us either. We are just as depressed, and at times as broken as you. But we dare to work through it. We pray through it. We counsel through it. You need to do the same.
The time has come for black men like our former President Barack Obama (through ‘I Am My Brother’s Keeper”, to Urban League President Marc Morial, to NAACP President Cornell Brooks, to National Coalition of 100 Black Men Chair Curley Dossman, Jr., and the Divine Nine Greek Lettered Organizations) to engage in this crisis and work to get black men the mental, economic, spiritual and emotional help they need to deal with some of their feelings of anger, worthlessness, and rage. That rage is destroying our families. Our churches and our communities. It must be addressed now or we will see more black male suicides, outbursts, acts of violence, domestic abuse, and more Steven Stephens in our news feeds.